An anonymous reader writes: A panel of experts at the BBC discuss the possibility of re-purposing the Sahara Desert. Instead of having over 9 million square kilometers of barren sand, we could start a massive project to gradually fill it with solar panels. The remarks are illuminating: "The technology is good. It's matured a lot in the last few years in terms of thermal storage. And the Sahara desert is so big that if there is cloudy weather, it's localized, and with thermal storage, it can provide absolutely reliable power." The difficulties turn out to be mostly political: "The biggest potential pitfall is that it's politically complicated. You're not going to develop solar energy in the Sahara unless you have a very strong state involvement, both on the side of the consumers and the project developers." And one of the panelists points out that Africa must have a large share of the benefits: "Things have changed. Africans are self-confident now, they want to participate in their development, and they want to have part of their resources, they are not just there to always give to the rest of the world and remain poor."
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